Courmayeur is a lovely little Italian village located at the foot of the famous Montblanc mountain in the Aosta Valley. Conveniently located just beneath the entrance to the tunnel on the Italian side of Montblanc, it can be easily accessed from the French side. I first came here last year with Y when we visited Chamonix for spring skiing (see blog), and decided to visit Courmayeur for a day to ski and eat, just 30 minutes drive away from Chamonix. We decided to spend 4 nights this year after our skiing in Megeve, to get some good ol’ Italian fix, and Y and her group of friends wanted to explore more of the slopes here, and get in more practice runs before the 2017 season ends! Here’s my list of where to go, what to eat especially when in Courmayeur skiing!
On the way to Courmayeur!
Given its location, Courmayeur is very popular for the Italian locals from Milan and other nearby cities visiting for the weekend and even those skiing from the French side like Chamonix and Megeve. The slopes selection here is for sure not as varied as Chamonix or Megeve and snow conditions here can be hit or miss, I think as with any other areas. Generally speaking, from what I noticed in my 2 trips there, Courmayeur has lovely morning sun, and it tends to run in the opposite weather of the French side like Chamonix. The main ski areas are Checrouit and Val Veny. There is a variety of slopes for beginners to advance skiers here, and the only thing I would caution is to avoid the weekends as it can get crazy crowded, as they also have many ski sport competitions held here and we experienced the crazy crowd when we arrived here on a Saturday.
If you need ski lessons, the school Y and buddies learnt from was pretty decent. Ask for Monica – an elegant Italian lady – she’s super patient and really helped Y improve her turns!
Scuola di Sci Monte Bianco
Strada Regionale, 51, 11013 Courmayeur AO
Tel. 0165 842477 Fax 0165 846488
Crazy crowd near the Chiecco lift on a Sunday morning!
Y’s ski instructor Monica with buddy YL.
View from the chair lift of Courmayeur ski runs.
There aren’t as many luxury options here as compared to Megeve and Chamonix if that’s what you are looking for. But when I researched there are a fair number budget to mid price options ranging from apartments to chalets located in the town area as well as the nearby of 2 star to 4 star type of apartments, mid size chalets located in the main town and Entreves area. After researching a bit, we stayed at the Grand Hotel Courmayeur (Str. Grand Ru, 1, 11013 Courmayeur AO, Italy), the newest hotel in the area, which cost around 305 euros for a double room (per night including VAT) during the period we stayed from 21 – 25 January. The rooms were modern and clean with spacious bathrooms and wardrobes to hide all that ski gear, and what I love most was their spa facilities – a must to visit! It is also well equipped with it’s own ski locker in the ground floor, has a shuttle van to bring guests to and from the slopes and even a ski rental shop with pretty new equipment. It’s an easy 15 minutes walk to the main town area. I booked our room through Booking.Com, but you can compare rates with the hotel direct and see which is better!
Inside our room and the view of the mountain from outside our room!
We got lucky with this amazing view of ‘sun kissed’ Montblanc one morning from our room!
SEE AND SHOP
There’s a quaint little village in Courmayeur town, filled with cute Italian delis, gelato shops and of course ski wear shops without a doubt. To add to the glam factor, there’s even a Gucci (105 Via Roma) and Woolrich (82 Via Roma) boutiques located here. Definitely not too shabby, but compared to shopping in Megeve and Courchevel, I think Courmayeur’s selection is definitely not as extensive or glam for sure. Not a huge town, it can easily be explored on foot from one end to another end.
And a must do I highly recommend, is to take the cable car – Mont Blanc Skyway which opened in 2015. It basically takes you from Entrèves all the way up to Punta Helbronner, the closest point to the summit of Mount Blanc, and it’s the best way to enjoy the spectacular mountain views here. The cable car features a 360° rotating glass cabins, so visitors can take in the view from all angles. Once you reach the top, at 3,466m, there’s a circular terrace and some educational image signages to show you the name of the mountains you are looking at. At this altitude, be prepared that you might feel a little faintish, but it’s so worth it! We took the last train up and down which allowed us to enjoy a bit of the sunset as well, which was pretty nice.
Montblanc Skyway – Strada Statale 26, 48, 11013 Courmayeur AO, Italy, Tel: +39 0165 89925. Website. Tickets available for sale at the ticket counter or you can buy online.
The bustling town of Courmayeur on a weekend.
In the cable car of Monte Bianco Skyway.
Top of the view at 3,466m!
Signage of mountains I took photo of.
Views of the mountain as we are coming down. Love the sunset!
I can say without a doubt that after eating French food in Megeve for a week, we were all so ready and looking forward to chowing down some hearty Italian food. Courmayeur has some pretty decent eats I have to say both in town and on the slopes. This is my best of list for you to check out!
EAT IN TOWN
Cadran Solarie Via Roma 122, Courmayeur, Aosta Valley, 11013, Italy, Tel: +39 0165 844609. Reservations a must.
This rustic restaurant serving up regional specialities and housed in the oldest tavern in Courmayeur, is definitely a gem to check out in Courmayeur, and I think it’s probably the best place to have food right in the heart of the town area. We came here on our way driving up from Milan to Megeve interestingly and stopped by for a lunch break. The tagliolini we had and the grilled octopus was delicious! I love how the display the desserts on a trolley – love that rustic touch, although I would have been happy with a tiramisu over the cake I had. We paid 115 euros for 3 persons and a bear 🙂
Gelateria Creme Et Chocolat Piazza Brocherel 2, 11013 Courmayeur, Italy. Tel: +39 0165 845160
If cakes aren’t so your thing, you can stroll down after shopping or lunch at Cadran Solaire to this gelateria, located at the start of the pedestrian street in front of the piazza. I decided to have the affogato which is pretty interesting, it appeared in a tall milkshake looking glass, and was super creamy but with the right amount of oomph! Yums! And there’s something really lovely about eating ice cream in winter.
Having my cake at Cadran Solaire.
Delicious grilled octopus!
Tagliolini – perfecto!
Tallest Affogato at Gelateria Creme et Chocolat.
Chateau Plan Gorret Localita ‘Plan Gorret 45, 11013 Courmayeur AO, Italy, Tel: +39 0165 841988. Reservations a must. Great spot for dinner.
This restaurant cum hotel, is located a short drive (2 km) away from the town of Courmayeur. The interiors of the restaurant has a nice rustic feel, and the special bit of it are all the hearts adoring the walls and even heart shaped placemats! The owner told me she loves hearts and this is in a way, her insignia on the restaurant, so it feels really nice to be here at night, you just feel so warm and fuzzy! Given the owner’s Sardinian background, naturally the menu focuses not only on Aosta but also a lot of Sardinian specialities as well, which turned up to be delicious! You can start of with their selection of Lardo, cold cuts and cheeses. And if you love seafood like me, a must order is the Fruits de Mer (seafood soup), and their Bottarga Spaghetti was just wonderful!
Hearts adorn the wall!
EAT ON THE SLOPES
The most enjoyable aspect of skiing in places in Europe is the apres ski – how you can ski to a restaurant to have some yummy food, and you will be spoilt for choice in Courmayeur. Here’s the go to list for where to eat and have a marocchino and bombardino break on the slopes! And you can rest assured that my favourite dessert – Tiramisu is no wonder their national dessert – you can’t go wrong in any of the restaurants in Courmayeur.
Marocchino, became Y and my all time favourite drink thanks to our ski instructor who told us about it and we ended up having it at every ski break. It is essentially a really yummy coffee drink, served in a small glass and consists of a shot of espresso, cocoa powder and milk froth. Sounds so simple but so delicious! If you need a shot of alcohol to keep you warm, Bombardino is the answer – with 1/2 Advocaat or eggnog and 1/2 Brandy. I first tried it at Christiania. It is served hot and with whipped cream on top, just yums too!
For rest break – Le Vieu Grenier (Loc. Pra Neyron, 11013 Courmayeur AO, Italy)
This mountain restaurant is only accessible for skiers and serves pretty good tiramisu and marocchino. You just need to ski down the Pra Neyron (blue run) and just before the run crosses the chairlift, you will see Vieux Grenier on the left which is next to the start of the Dzeleuna chairlift.
At La Vieu Grenier – Tiramisu and Marocchino, my all time favourite combi for ski break!
Maison Vielle Col Checrouit, 11013 Courmayeur – AO, Tel: +39 (0)337 230 979 (Recap from my 2016 post on Chamonix)
This quaint mountain hut located on the mountain slopes, has a great convivial atmosphere run by the friendly owner Giacomo Calosi and his team of staff who greets the regulars who dine here like friends. Known for their pizzas, pastas and homemade desserts, this is a great place to recharge during skiing. We obviously went a bit overkill on the different pastas, my favourite being the penne arrabiata, and don’t forget to try their homemade focaccia. The ultimate was definitely their tiramisu, which was so creamy and divine. Accessible near the top of the Maison Vieille chairlift.
Christiania Plan Checrouit, Tel: 0165 843572. Reservations a must.
This restaurant since 1957 located at the foot of Plan Chercrouit is known for their pizzas and just simple hearty pastas that are pretty reasonable in price. Great place to refuel for lunch in between ski runs. Their tiramisu and my favourite drinks here are also as yummy as the pizzas! I really lost track of the number of pizzas I ate, but the one with the runny egg – which you can request for as an extra topping was my favourite! The diavola was pretty delicious too. If you like something heartwarming, be sure to have the minestrone soup which is big enough to share as an entree or a main course on your own.
Delicious pizza at Christiania.
Bombardino at Christiana!
Chateau Branlant Localita ‘Plan Checrouit, 11013 Courmayeur AO, Italy, Tel : +39 0165 846584
The Chateau Branlant is located in Plan Checrouit, near the nursery slope “Chiecco”, and is pretty much ski-in-ski-out. Perfect again for a mid day ski break and it’s a really cute little double storey house. They have a decent wine list, and serve hearty food like pastas and their veal milanese was pretty good too! Yes and of course I had to indulge in tiramisu again here which didn’t fail me 🙂
Exterior of Chateau Branlant.
Chiecco Plan Checrouit, 11013 Courmayeur AO, Italy, Tel: +39 0165 182 7210
This is my favourite of my entire list. Not to exaggerate, but I know of people who would ski to Courmayeur from other ski areas like Chamonix etc, just to eat at Chiecco. It’s really pretty excellent food in this mountain restaurant, but it’s easily the priciest. Think offerings of black truffle which they tempted us oh so well with it, and amazing wine offerings. It’s easy to spend 30 – 40 euros for a dish here, but it’s sooo good! Recommendations: Sardines with butter, beef carpaccio, bruschetta, pasta with black truffle, grilled beef. Look out for their resident Labrador who is super endearing!
I hope you have enjoyed reading my list on Courmayeur, all this writing about tiramisu and Marocchino is making me so hungry 🙂 You can rest assured it will be hard to lose weight if you decide to come here, unless you choose to abstain from all my recommendations of Courmayeur restaurants.
Till next time Courmayeur!